Plan panel to set up expert group to re-look at poverty numbers

The Planning Commission’s estimates faced criticism in Parliament for its description of poor and resultant fall in people below the poverty line. Opposition parties blamed the government for making a ‘dishonest’ attempt to conceal reality through ‘fraudulent’ estimates

New Delhi: Amid demand for removal of its deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia for pegging the poverty line at Rs28.65 daily per capita consumption for cities, the Planning Commission is likely to constitute an expert group to re-evaluate its claim that poverty has declined in India, reports PTI.

“The Commission is likely to shortly constitute an expert group for re-evaluating the poverty numbers and the methodology used to arrive at the number,” a source said.

As per the Commission’s estimates the poverty ratio has been pegged at 29.8% in 2009-10, down from 37.2% in 2004-05. These are based on the daily per capita consumption of Rs28.65 in urban cities and Rs22.42 in rural areas.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh had sought removal of Mr Ahluwalia from the post of deputy chairman of the Commission fixing poverty line so low.

“The Prime Minister is responsible as he is the chairman of the Commission. He should remove the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission from the post,” Mr Singh had said yesterday.

The Commission’s estimates faced criticism in Parliament for its description of poor and resultant fall in people below the poverty line.

The Opposition parties, including BJP, blamed the government for making a ‘dishonest’ attempt to conceal reality through ‘fraudulent’ estimates.

However, Mr Ahluwalia had said that there is serious discrepancy in NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation) data and national accounts which led to pegging of such a low poverty line.

The Commission yesterday released poverty data based on the 66th round of the National Sample Survey (2009-10) data on household consumer expenditure survey. The national accounts, which provide data for national income, is prepared by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO).


Economy & Nation Exclusive
Railway passenger fares rolled back by new minister

Fare hike in sleeper, suburban, AC chair car and AC 3-tier to be rolled back, railway minister Mukul Roy said

Railway minister Mukul Roy on Thursday announced a roll-back of passenger fares, which were part of the Rail Budget 2012 presented by his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi last week.

The minister said that passenger fares for sleeper, sub-urban, AC chair car and AC 3-tier classes would be rolled back.

He, however, kept untouched the increase of 15 paise per km and 30 paise per km respectively in passenger fares in AC 2-tier and AC-I announced by Mr Trivedi last week.

Replying to the debate on the Railway Budget in the Lok Sabha, Mr Roy also put on hold Mr Trivedi’s proposal of setting up a committee to examine whether there should be an independent tariff regulatory authority.

Besides, he scrapped proposal to expand the Railway Board.

Mr Roy, who was replying to the debate just a day after taking over as railway minister, said, “The proposal to increase fare by 2 paise per km, 3 paise per km and 5 paise per km in second class suburban and non-suburban and Sleeper class is a huge drain on the pocket of the masses.”

“Similarly, increase in the fare of AC Chair Car and AC 3-tier, which is now patronised by the middle class, is also quite severe.

“I intend to give relief to the already over burdened common man by not effecting any increase in these classes.”

Mr Trivedi had proposed 10 paise per km each for AC Chair Car and AC 3-tier.

Referring to the roll-back of hike in train fares announced earlier, Mr Roy said “many members have expressed anguish over the proposal to hike passenger fares that would impact the aam aadmi”.

“The concern of the common man is over-riding, even if it means biting the bullet of a different kind, the impact of the fare hike on the aam aadmi is huge,” he said.

After Roy’s 20-minute speech, the House passed the Vote on Account and the relevant Appropriation Bills, as well as a resolution to adopt recommendations of the second report of the Railway Convention Committee by voice vote.

He said the Railways would launch an “aggressive drive to mop up resources from non-conventional sources” like public- private partnership (PPP) projects would be carried out on a fast-track.

Advertising as a source of revenue was not being fully explored, he said, adding that there would be “a focused approach” on using the vacant land and airspace with the railways to raise resources.

Noting the concerns expressed by almost all members over rail safety, he said in order to avoid accidents at unmanned railway crossings, he would pursue the commitment to ‘eliminate’ such crossings.

Major initiatives would be launched to construct overbridges, revamp telecommunications, rolling stock and terminals, the minister said.

Maintaining that members had expressed “deep anguish” over cleanliness and hygiene at stations and in trains, he said these issues would be on his top priority after safety.

Regarding filling up of vacancies, Mr Roy said all posts relating to safety, especially unmanned crossings, would be filled.


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